Two Australians missing after Taiwan quake

Nurses save babies as 7.4 quake hits Taiwan

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Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs is working to determine the fate of two Australians reported missing after Taiwan’s worst earthquake in 25 years.

Two other foreigners remain unaccounted for – one Canadian and an Indian – as dozens remain missing and the death toll from Wednesday’s devastating quake rose to 10.

More than 600 people are believed to be still trapped, although safe, while 38 people – including the two Australians – are missing and cannot be contacted.

Nearly 1100 people have been confirmed as injured, as hundreds of aftershocks continue to strike Taiwan’s east, driving scores to seek shelter outdoors.

A helicopter ferried to safety six miners trapped on a cliff in a dramatic rescue after the quake cut off the roads into Hualien’s soaring mountains, in footage shown by the Taiwan’s Central Weather Administration.

Rescue workers have also found most of the roughly 50 hotel workers marooned on a highway as they headed to a resort in the Taroko Gorge national park.

They reached the hotel in the gorge, which has been cut-off by the quake, by helicopter and established all 400 people there were safe.

The discovery on Thursday of a dead body on a hiking trail near the entrance to the gorge took the total deaths from the tremor to 10.

The agriculture ministry urged people to keep away from the mountains because of the risk of falling rocks and the formation of “barrier lakes” as water pools behind unstable debris.

Thursday was the start of a long-weekend holiday for Taiwan’s tomb-sweeping festival, when families traditionally return home to attend to ancestral graves. Others will also visit tourist attractions.

People in largely rural and sparsely populated Hualien county were readying to go to work and school when the earthquake struck offshore early on Wednesday.

Buildings also shuddered violently in Taipei but the capital suffered minimal damage and disruption.

All those trapped in buildings in the worst-hit city of Hualien have been rescued but many residents unnerved by more than 300 aftershocks spent the night outdoors.

“The aftershocks were terrifying,” said Yu, a 52-year-old woman, who gave only her family name.

“It’s non-stop. I do not dare to sleep in the house.”

Too scared to return to her apartment, which she described as being in a “mess”, Yu has been sleeping in a tent on a sports ground being used for temporary shelter.

Dozens of residents queued outside one badly damaged 10-storey building, waiting to go in and retrieve belongings.

Clad in helmets and accompanied by government personnel, each was given 10 minutes to collect valuables in huge rubbish bags. Some saved time by throwing items out of windows into the street below.

“This building is no longer liveable,” said Tian Liang-si, who lived on the fifth floor, as she scrambled to gather her laptop, family photographs and other crucial items.

She recalled the moment the quake struck, sending the building lurching and furniture sliding, while she rushed to save the four puppies she keeps as pets.

“I’m a Hualien native,” she told Reuters.

“I’m not supposed to fear earthquakes. But this is an earthquake that frightened us.”

-with AAP

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